Physiotherapy for Back Pain
Getting you back to your former self with back pain management physiotherapy
Back pain can be torture. It's a common problem that often interferes with everyday life. It can make it difficult to sleep, sit, stand, walk, and do many other ordinary activities. While, for some people, back pain can clear up on its own, it can affect others for months or even years. Pain can be experienced in different areas of the back too, with a wide range of causes. Physiotherapy is excellent for several types of back pain, and there are plenty of exercises that you can do at home to deal with it. Take a look at this guide to find out how it could help you. If you need help from a physiotherapist, get in touch with Sycamore Health to make an appointment.
The Many Causes of Back Pain
Back pain can have many causes, and it can sometimes be difficult to determine exactly what the cause is. There are different structures in your back that could be responsible, from muscles and discs to nerves, ligaments and joints. Finding the underlying cause of back pain can be tricky. Your brain can get confused about what's actually hurting, so a herniated disc might feel like a bruised muscle. This is why seeing a doctor is important if you're experiencing back pain. They can conduct a thorough examination, and you will have the opportunity to describe your pain so that they can work out a likely cause.
How Physiotherapy Can Treat Back Pain
Physiotherapy is an excellent treatment for many different types of back pain. It can help to strengthen key muscles and reduce pain. As well as exercises, physical therapy also includes passive passive physical therapy to help deal with pain. This includes methods such as using heat and ice packs or ultrasound. Exercises for back pain can include stretching, low-impact aerobic conditioning, and strengthening exercises to strengthen both back muscles and core muscles. General exercise and fitness are important for dealing with back pain. Many physiotherapists will recommend walking, swimming or other gentle forms of exercise.
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is the type of pain that most people find themselves experiencing. Lower back pain could be caused by anything from a muscle strain to spending all day sitting at a desk. Lower back pain can also often result in pain radiating down the legs. The most common cause of lower back pain is a strained muscle or ligament. Rest, over-the-counter painkillers and heat or ice packs can all help to treat this type of injury. However, continuing moderate activity is important too, helping to reduce stiffness and discomfort.
Chronic back pain can feel a lot more frustrating to deal with. It's often caused by a problem with a disc, the nerves or the joints. Causes of chronic lower back pain can include:
Lumbar herniated disc
Degenerative disc disease
Facet joint dysfunction
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
There are various physiotherapy exercises that can help lower back pain, whether its cause is temporary or the pain is chronic. Stretching exercises are useful for a lot of people, particularly those who might be experiencing back pain caused by their lifestyle. Sitting at a desk all day in an inadequate chair or sleeping on a poor quality mattress can lead to back pain, or these things can make it worse.
The muscles in the lower back, as well as those around the hips and legs, can be strengthened and stretched to relieve several types of pain. Lower back pain may be caused by disuse of the muscles or spasming caused by poor posture or nerve irritation. A physiotherapist can give you a personalized stretching routine to follow that will help to relieve your back pain and address its cause. However, there are some types of stretches that you might want to try at home if you're looking for a way to deal with lower back pain. When stretching, focus on not just your back, but also the abdominal muscles, hips and legs. Core strength is an important part of ensuring your back muscles are strong and healthy.
One easy way to stretch your lower back is to lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest, holding them there with your hands. You can also bring your head forward, which helps to stretch your middle and lower back. You can also individually pull each leg into your chest. Another way to stretch while lying on your back is to put your knees up, then place one foot over the opposite thigh. Gently pull the lower leg toward your chest. Try stretching your hips by kneeling on one knee, with the other foot forward (so that your thighs are at a right angle to each other). Put your hands on the thigh that is forward and gently lean forward to feel a stretch.
Sciatica is another possible cause of lower back pain, and it can also cause pain to radiate through the hips, buttocks and legs. Sciatica is caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which runs down the backs of your legs. It can also cause numbness, burning or tingling and even weakness. Sciatica tends to cause pain on one side and get worse when sitting down. While sciatica is usually not too serious, there are certain symptoms it's important to watch out for. Progressive weakness or problems with the bladder or bowel should be addressed as soon as possible.
Sciatica can be caused by some of the conditions listed above, such as a lumbar herniated disc or degenerative disc disease. However, other causes include pregnancy, muscle strain and even scar tissue.
The stretches for lower back pain described above can also help to relieve sciatica pain. People suffering from sciatica will also likely benefit from hamstring stretches since sciatic pain tends to affect the legs. Tight hamstrings can also put pressure on the lower back which can worsen the symptoms of sciatica. You can stretch your hamstrings while sitting down. While sitting on the edge of a chair, put one leg out in front of you, with your heel on the floor and your toes pointing up. You can sit up straight or lean forward, putting your hands on your hips or the opposite leg to lean into the stretch.
Upper Back Pain
Upper back pain isn't as common as lower back pain, but it can still affect a lot of people. The upper back tends to be less vulnerable to injury, but that doesn't mean that it can't experience problems. Pain in the upper back is generally due to either muscular irritation or problems with joints in the thoracic spine (the section of your spine that is attached to your ribs). Most upper back pain isn't related to a serious issue, but it can still feel sore and irritating. Upper back pain can cause stiffness, discomfort or sometimes a sharp pain in one spot. It can also result in radiating pain down the arm, chest or even further down the body.
A doctor can get to the bottom of what's causing upper back pain, especially if it won't go away. The doctor can look at your medical history and lifestyle, give you a physical examination, and conduct diagnostic tests, which might include X-rays or MRIs. Some of the common causes of upper back pain include:
Improper lifting technique
Injury from sports, car accidents and other incidents
Rest and modifying activity levels, as well as using heat, ice and massage can be helpful for upper back pain. However, physiotherapy can be beneficial too, particularly for people who have been experiencing pain for a while.
The aim of physiotherapy for upper back pain is to improve flexibility, strength and stability, and range of motion. Some people might need to learn to correct their posture if poor posture is the reason that they are experiencing upper back pain. Your physiotherapist can create an exercise plan just for you, but there are some exercises that you might want to try yourself.
Isometric exercises are often used to strengthen the muscles around the neck and upper back. These are exercises where you push against resistance, but without moving the muscle. One simple example is where you put the palm of your hand on your forehead and push while looking straight ahead. The resistance from your neck muscles should help to strengthen them. You can also do this on the side of your head and push with your fingers on the back of your head too.
Another useful exercise for upper back pain is a thoracic extension. Sit on the edge of a chair, and clasp your hands behind your head. Then gently arch backward to look at the ceiling, and repeat the exercise ten times.
Aerobic exercise can also be very good for upper back pain. It helps to strengthen back muscles and abdominal muscles. Walking, running or cycling can all be helpful if you want to prevent back pain. Although you might find some exercises that are helpful to do at home, it's much better to get a diagnosis first to see what the cause of your upper back pain might be.
Many people experience back pain after suffering a sports injury. Although playing sports helps to keep you healthy, there is often the risk of injury. You might strain a muscle, damage a ligament, put stress on your joints, or fall or get knocked over. Sports injuries can be particularly disappointing because they can make it difficult for you to keep up your usual level of activity. You might be trying to train for something, or perhaps you even participate in a sport professionally or semi-professionally. When you injure yourself, physiotherapy can help you to heal and get back to the sport you love as soon as possible.
A sports injury could involve an injury to your lower or upper back, or to your neck. Physiotherapists can help you not only to deal with an injury, but also to prevent them so that your risk of hurting yourself is lower. Back pain can come from weightlifting, running, running, cycling and even golf. Contact sports might also lead to injury. Some sports injuries might be caused by trauma, but others could be due to repetitive strain.
While rest can be good for you when you have an injury, it's also a good idea not to stop moving completely. You should try to do any exercise that doesn't increase your pain, such as walking or swimming. Gentle stretches such as those described above for upper or lower back pain can help you to recover better too. However, it's important to have a tailored exercise plan if you want to do exactly the right exercises for you. If you're hoping to get back into playing a sport, you need to know when it's appropriate to get back to your full level of activity. A physiotherapist can work with you to create the right exercise plan for you.
The Importance of Seeing a Physitherapist
While you can find useful information about back pain online, seeing a physiotherapist about your pain is really the best thing to do. The thing about back pain is that it can have many different causes. You might be fairly certain about why your back is hurting, but an examination is often required to detect the real reason. Seeing a doctor doesn't just help to detect the cause of your back pain. It also allows them to help you get the right treatment. When you see a physiotherapist, they will work with you to make sure you have a personalized treatment plan.
Working with a therapist ensures you get accurate advice that will help you to heal and avoid making things worse. You can try some physiotherapy treatments at home, but they could only get you so far. A physiotherapist can show you what will really work and help you to deal with your back pain in the short-term and long-term.
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